Creating Access

Accessibility vs. Accommodations

SAS focuses its efforts on accessibility. This effort allows a broad continuum of users with/without disabilities to access programs, course materials, activities, and services. Individuals with varied needs may participate outright.  (i.e., No one is restricted from using curb cuts and automatic door openers, yet it meets the needs of individuals whose mobility may be affected, such as a person using a wheelchair.) Alternately, accommodations are provided to address that which is inaccessible.  Accommodations are generally meant to address inaccessibility issues for individuals with disabilities (such accommodations may also meet the needs of others, e.g., temporary disabilities). The content that follows is intended to promote accessibility for diverse learners with or without disabilities or accommodation letters.

Re: Instructional Materials, SAS will notify faculty each semester of known students enrolled in identified courses where accessibility needs exist. This notification will occur after the enrollment process for each semester.

Accommodation letters are sent by students and are to address classroom logistics that may affect access/performance due to a disability. These letters have no deadline but have no expectations for retroactive implementation.

Syllabus Statement

Including an accessibility services statement in your syllabus serves two important functions.

  1.  It lets the students know you are aware of the accommodations process, and they should feel comfortable approaching you to discuss their specific accommodation letter in detail as needed.
  2.  If the student has not yet connected with SAS, this statement provides necessary information on who to contact if they feel they may need accommodation services.

Make Textbook and Required Reading information available via

Many students registered with SAS require print materials in a digital format to be used with Assistive Technology, such as screen readers and text-to-speech software.  As part of their accommodations, students and/or SAS will need to acquire a digital alternative to the printed books.  Making your textbook information available as early as possible via the portal will facilitate this process. SAS works with the publishers to request the e-text, typically in a searchable PDF format for the student.  (Note: The student is still required to purchase a copy of the printed book or another e-book format before SAS can provide the PDF from the publisher.)  When the book is not available digitally from the publisher, SAS will need to cut/scan the student's print copy and convert it to searchable text.  This can be time-consuming, so the more advance notice we have, the better we can manage our workload.

Did you know you can also Edit Course Details in the portal?

SAS recommends including the following details for clarification:

  •  NO TEXTBOOK will be required
  • Reading materials will be available via CANVAS or other known sources such as OpenStax.
  • If multiple books are required,  list them in the order they will be used in the course
  • Add Syllabus or other course details not included in the course description      

Provide non-textbook required reading materials in a digital format:

Why does this matter?

Reading continues to be the primary method students are expected to utilize when accessing new information and course materials in the learning environment.  Most often, these reading materials are provided in a  hard copy printed format.

However, there are many disabilities that interfere with reading standard “print” materials.

What is a Print Disability?

Functional definition,  "A condition related to blindness, visual impairment, specific learning disability or other physical condition in which the student needs an alternative or specialized format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) in order to access and gain information from conventional printed materials."  (Maine AIM Community of Practice)

Multiple forms of "READING" include:

  • “Eye reading”—scanning words on the printed page or on-screen (may require magnification)
  •  “Ear reading” – audiobooks, screen readers, and text-to-speech software (ScreenReader Demo).  
  • “Finger reading” – braille, tactile access to words on the page.

How Disability impacts the Reading Process:

  • Visual:
    • Blind-- requires using a screen reader or braille. 
    • Low vision – requires magnification  and/or manipulation of fonts and display settings
    • Color blindness, Sensitivity to light --requires customization display settings
  • Physical —may not have the mobility and dexterity to handle books or manipulate pages. 
  • Learning/ dyslexia/ attention –each has an impact on the rate of reading, fluency, and comprehension.

What is "digital text"?

Digital text is often referred to as “Alternate Format or e-Text”

When text is digital, the end-user can control its format to meet his/her individual reading needs with a variety of assistive technologies or device settings.  (This supports the CAST UDL -Universal Design for Learning principle of “multiple means of representation”.

Quick Test -- try "selecting text" from within your PDF to copy/paste into another document.


If the PDF is only an image of the text, you will see a blue box in the middle of your paragraph.

If the PDF is searchable, you will see it capture all the text as shown above.

Good news: There are many natively digital options available for print materials.

  • e-books (from the  library or publisher sources)
  • Full-text PDFs from digital databases
  • Online digital journal articles

Bad news:
"Scanned" or image-only PDFs posted to Canvas  (i.e., scanned article or book chapter) can be very problematic if the image quality is poor and the text has not been “recognized” to make the document searchable using (OCR—Optical Character Recognition) software.

How do I make my print materials accessible?

1.  Search the UNH Library for full-text PDFs via online databases or ProQuest e-books.

2.  Utilize the UNH Library e-Reserves service (they provide single-page searchable PDFs).

Book Scanner Station in Dimond Library

3.  Use the Book Scanner stations in the Dimond Library --
Located on the 3rd floor by the public print stations,
near the Reference Desk. 
Instructions for Scanning to Searchable PDF 
are available at each of the 2 Book Scanning Stations.

SAS, in collaboration with Print Services, has determined that MOST  Academic Department Xerox Workstations DO have the ability to create searchable PDF files by changing some of the default settings.   Please contact ( to request changing the default settings on your specific department's Xerox machine. 

NOTE: The quality of the scanned image will greatly impact the text recognition accuracy.

  Avoid source documents that contain any of the following:

  • Color highlighting or underlining
  • Margin notes or other handwriting
  • Folds, creases, stains on the paper
  • Previously photocopied documents 

Use the Email option on the Copier and Adjust the scan settings as noted below:
NOTE: The specific user interface varies by Xerox model. 

General adjustments (prior to changing default settings) include:

  •  Email tab-- Output Color -- change to Black and White or Grayscale, NOT "Auto Detect"
  • Advanced Settings tab-- Resolution-- change from 200 dpi to 300 dpi
  • Layout Adjustment tab -- Original Size -- Custom Scan Area:  
  • Measure the exact dimensions of your page with a ruler and enter the exact X and Y dimensions of your page. (Be sure to scan one page at a time!)
  • Email Options tab--  File Format -- PDF--(change “Image Only” to “Searchable” ) if available on your copier. 

Converting existing scanned PDF files to searchable PDFs.

If you have an existing image PDF (that is good quality), or you recently created a new scan but did not have the “create searchable PDF” option available to you, there are a couple of options for making these searchable after the fact.

  1.  Use Adobe Acrobat Pro to Recognize Text in the PDF to make it searchable. 
    See Information about purchasing via UNH -IT 
  2.  Install the Read&Write app to Win/Mac.  (free to all faculty, staff, and students).
    Then use the "Scan" feature to convert previously scanned image PDF files to searchable PDFs.
    1.  Instructional video for Scan tool on Mac
    2. Instructional video for Scan tool on Windows

TIP:  Always Test your Searchable Scanned PDFs for Accuracy:
Cut and Paste a random paragraph from your searchable PDF into a blank Word Doc and look for spelling/word errors.  A poor-quality scanned image may result in multiple recognition errors. The text you see in the Word document is what a student would "hear" when using text-to-speech software.  If the text is NOT accurate-- consider rescanning to get a cleaner source image or contact SAS for assistance. (we have other OCR software tools that allow us to edit the underlying text).

Video Content and Captioning

As more and more video is integrated into the educational environment, our accessibility compliance obligation requires that all video/audio content include captions and/or a transcript if there is a student with hearing loss in the course

Video Captions also benefit students without disabilities. 
See the IT Knowledgebase article Understanding Captioning and Caption Workflow for more information. 

  1. For non-native English-speaking students, providing captions will improve comprehension of your lecture videos.
  2. For Instructors with English as a secondary language, providing captions will help improve student comprehension.
  3. Captions help your students understand, spell, and properly pronounce discipline-specific terminology.  
  4. Captions provide better cognitive reinforcement.  Some students learn better while they read.
  5. Captions can make your lecture content searchable using keywords via the Media Gallery.
  6. Captions allow videos to be viewed with the sound off in places like the library.

Look for video content that already contains closed captioning.

 Good sources include:

TEDTalks contain accurate captions in multiple languages.

PBS, major TV networks, and educational websites such as Kahn Academy often include accurate captions.


 Kanopy   (UNH video streaming service --available to all students, faculty, and staff via a UNH login) contains over 30,000 videos.

Search within Subjects: Movies, Documentaries, The Arts, Business, Education, Global Studies & Languages, Health, Media & Communications, Sciences, Social Sciences, Instructional Films, and Lessons.

NOTE: Most Kanopy videos already include captions (see images below).  If not, you can directly request captions be added to a particular video.

Click on the CC button to turn on captions when showing the video in class.

If the CC button is crossed-out, simply click on the button to request captions be added to that title for FREE.  The turnaround time is approximately 2-10 days.

What can I do if my videos are NOT Captioned?  

Any video that does not already contain accurate captions will need to be uploaded into Kaltura via MyMedia in Canvas or MediaSpace at MediaSpace. See the IT Knowledgebase Kaltura Overview for more information. 

Step 1: Upload your video to Kaltura via MyMedia in Canvas
 Once the video is uploaded, it will go through the Kaltura auto-generated caption process.
(NOTE: If you have NOT yet used MyMedia, you will first need to enable MyMedia and Media Gallery in your Canvas Menu.)

 Step 2: Review captions and edit for accuracy. 
                     See the IT Knowledgebase --Kaltura- Captioning a Video for instructions on this process. 

Step 3: Embed the Kaltura video into your Canvas content page/Module using the "embed tool" in the Canvas WYSIWYG editor.  See the IT Knowledgebase for instructions

Step 4: **Consider publishing your video to the Media Gallery, where the captions will be searchable.
                ** This may benefit many students, particularly when reviewing Lecture Capture videos. 
                     See the IT Knowledgebase, Kaltura: Media Gallery, for instructions on this process. 

Types of Video Content and How to Upload into Kaltura:

DVD video without subtitles or captions: 

DVDs without captions will also need to be “ripped”/downloaded to the computer before being uploaded into Kaltura/MyMedia.  This can be done using a free software tool called  Handbrake. (see Handbrake instructions) which is available in the Parker Media Lab in Dimond Library.

Once the video is downloaded,  follow Steps 1-4 above.

YouTube Videos: 

 First--Review the YouTube video captions for accuracy:

Click on the CC button in the lower right corner of the video to turn on captions, then look at the message in the top left corner of the screen. (NOTE: if there is no CC button, then there are no captions!)

 If you see a caption language, i.e., English, the captions should be accurate, and you can simply embed this captioned video into your Canvas page.

** If you see the words (auto-generated), then you will need to review your entire video to check for errors.  And since you cannot edit YouTube videos you don't own, you will likely need to download it and run it through Kaltura.  

CAUTION:  “auto-generated” captions typically contain many errors, do not include any capitalization or punctuation, which can be difficult to follow without hearing, and can be distracting and confusing. 
In the deaf community, these are referred to as “craptions”.   #nomorecraptions

 If the YouTube (or other 3rd Party video) does NOT include accurate captions:

You will first need to download the video to your computer and then upload it into Kaltura via MyMedia.   

You can use the Firefox Video DownloadHelper add-on tool to download 3rd party videos.   
Follow the step-by-step instructions.

Once the video is downloaded to your computer,  follow Steps 1-4 above.

Lecture Capture / Classroom Capture videos:  

 Lecture videos created with Kaltura Capture or Kaltura Classroom will automatically be uploaded to the Kaltura Media Server.  (Older Tegrity videos have also been uploaded to Kaltura). All videos you created can now be accessed via MyMedia in Canvas or via MediaSpace at  All videos uploaded to Kaltura will go through the auto-generated captioning process. However, these captions will need to be reviewed and edited for accuracy.  See steps 2-4 above.


SAS RECOMMENDATION:  Create a "Welcome/Canvas Orientation" Video for each of your Canvas courses:
Use the Kaltura Capture tool in Canvas/MyMedia to create a brief welcome/orientation/course overview video to introduce yourself, review the syllabus, explain/demonstrate how your course is organized, where to find announcements, assignments, important due dates, etc. 
This can be a great way to practice using the Kaltura Capture tool if you are not already familiar with it.  You can then embed the video on your course home page for your students to reference throughout the semester, as they likely will not remember everything you covered on the first day of class! (or, in the case of ADD/DROP, they may not have even been there). For large lecture classes, this may even save you from answering the same questions repeatedly throughout the semester!


Video Recording Tips for Maximizing Caption Accuracy.


  • Know what you are going to say.  Be prepared or draft a script.
  • Record in a quiet setting away from phones, background noises, interruptions, etc.
  • Silence your cell phone and any alerts on your computer, such as email or RSS feeds.
  • Use a quality microphone.  Consider a headset microphone that plugs into your USB or audio jack on your computer.  Avoid using the built-in microphone as the quality is limited.
  • Be aware of your speaking volume and speed.  You may want to do a short test video and listen to it on playback before getting too far along.